tv [untitled] February 12, 2012 12:30am-1:00am EST
with police dogs and fire hoses. >> the young kids, the idea of the radical and the militants. malcolm x was disagreeing with that along with the president. >> right? >> the children are too young to participate. >> the children were too young. a man doesn't make children do his work for him, right? a real man doesn't have children go out in front of him, yeah, katie. >> martin luther king said if the children can accept god and decide their faith, then they are old enough to stand-up. >> king had to be talked into it. that was his lieutenant james bevel. bevel was this always slightly
nutty way out there really brilliant theorist of nonviolence. you saw him on eyes on the prize. he pushed martin luther king. everybody had to push king. he thought deeply, but he had to be pushed. he was appalled at the idea of children marching. he said you have to be kidding me. we can't do that. we cant do that. bevel wore him down and the cameras were starting to leave. is that manipulative on the part of the civil rights movement to do something the cameras would like? what do you think about that? are they just publicity hounds? >> they weren't getting the exposure to help the cause. they needed people to be interested. >> why? why do you think they needed that? >> they needed people to realize what's happening in the south and the impact of segregation.
>> they needed people where to realize that? >> all over the country. >> all over the country, especially in the north where it was really easy to ignore. yeah. >> all over the world because of how the other countries were getting liberated. >> all the countries in africa and asia that were becoming independent. >> they were looking at the u.s. to see what was going on. >> so, they were willing to play to the world the use world public opinion, the public opinion of people around the world as well as in the united states as additional pressure on the system in birmingham. it's a gutsy thing to do, isn't it? it's a very gutsy -- katie? >> it's why kennedy was reluctant and didn't want these things happening because of how everyone in the world would view us. >> yeah. he didn't want the civil rights activists doing what they were doing anyway. he tried to talk them out of the freedom rights because he was going to meet in vienna for the first time.
excuse me, he didn't want that stuff to happen at all. it makes the u.s. look bad. the front page of the party of the soviet union. the soviets were real competitors of the united states in africa. they supported lots of independent movements the united states did not always support so much. so, they made hay out of this. they loved being able to embarrass the united states. that's one of the reasons king got called a communist. what he was doing was supporting communist criticism of the united states. he was never a communist or even close to it. he was critical of communists. he was willing to embarrass his own government for not doing anything about civil rights. john f. kennedy had plenty to be embarrassed about. as you pointed out, king was ambitious trying to get the
government to act on these matters. they needed publicity. it's too easy not to look at how badly people are being treated far away. or, frankly, seven blocks away in hartford. there's tremendous poverty in this city. right now, we are in a gorgeous classroom, right? everybody has enough to eat. everybody's got good clothing and is in a nice private university and you have the luxury of studying. the history of the civil rights movement and not very far away, people are tremendously poor in this city. it's one of the poorest cities in the united states. it's easier not to look at it. it's hard to look at it all the time. it's easier to not look at stuff 1,000 miles away, below the mason-dixon line.
so these folks, these african-americans in the deep south had a tremendous barrier to overcome. and they used -- they needed media desperately. did it work? it worked. they finally got their confrontation. they finally got their confrontation and it was on the front page of newspapers all over the world. they got the negotiation. they got agreements to hire african-americans in stores to serve african-americans in lunch counters. seems like small potatoes, doesn't it? they had to go through all that just to get a few people hired in stores? amazing, isn't it? that's what king refers to in the letter which you read it's
odd about how the nations of africa and asia are moving toward independence in jet-like speeds while we go in a horse and buggy to get what? a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. that's right. a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. exactly. so, ready to look at the letter? good. let's get the screen down. then we'll look at both letters. this is great. unlike the other classroom, this has a screen attached to the on button. it will take a minute or two to warm up. and let's see if i can get to what we want here.
so, since you have looked at this open letter before, what were you struck by? >> it was clergymen that attacked king. everybody was opposing him at that time. it wasn't just people outside the church or just a certain group of people. everyone was attacking his views and the way he was going about the movement. >> what do you know about these eight clergymen? >> they were white. >> they were all white. >> seemed like they had -- >> they did have a lot of
credentials and they were known as racial moderates. they were not the fire breathing ku klux klanners at all. they were rational moderates. one of them, let's go to the bottom. let's look at the list of people who signed the letter. these are not just ordinary pastors, right? these are religious leaders. bishop of alabama. auxiliary bishop. bishop of the alabama west florida conference of the methodist church. another methodist bishop. this must be the catholic bishop and the catholic bishop as well. here we have the presbyterians. here we have someone who is a pastor of birmingham. we'll see a slide of it in a little bit. also, we have a rabbi, right? bet you didn't know there was a jewish temple.
there were enough jews to have a temple. one rabbi in town signs onto exactly the same letter. one of these fellows, because king mentioned it in the letter, it's i don't know whether it's -- i think it must be bishop carpenter desegregated a catholic college nearby. these are the racial moderates. these are people that actually took brave stances with their own denominations and their own people in favor of some movement on civil rights. let's look at their attitude. we don't have a long time to do this but it's not a long letter. this was in the sunday paper.
so this may help us understand some of what's in the letter. we are confronted bay series of demonstrations directed and led in part by outsiders. it's a reason king is so stung by the idea he's an outsider when we get to his letter. we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and what's the other word? untimely. absolutely. unwise and untimely. then, they say that we think there should be negotiation. open and honest negotiation as though somehow martin luther king is opposed to negotiation.
it's good context for the letter, right? you can see what he's responding to. oh. here we go. we also point out that if we insight to hatred and violence, they don't contribute to the resolution of local problems. then at the end, they urge our own negro community to withdrawal support for these demonstrations. what do you think about that? eight white clergymen asking all the black folk in town to withdrawal from the demonstrations because they don't know what's best for them. what do you think about that torey? >> one thing i highlighted that he said in his letter, he said that no one would be able to understand segregation and going through it unless they felt the sting of segregation.
these people haven't gone through it. who are they to tell these black people who are fighting for their own natural liberties that they should stop. >> that's really very well put. where is that line about unduly -- it's a great line, actually. in the second -- where is that line? those that have not felt unduly the sting of segregation, do you have it? hmmm? it's on the third page? oh, here we go. perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say wait. right. none of these gentlemen has felt the stinging dart of
segregation. and neither have i. neither had my predecessor at the university of hartford in 1963. the person teaching u.s. history who surely was white, surely was male never felt those darts, either. therefore it was just as easy to ignore what life was like in the segregated south as to do anything about it. that's why they needed the media. that's why they needed project c for confrontation. anything else in this letter that you read before? >> i just pointed out like you did, the timing issue. everyone seemed to have a problem with the timing. >> everyone had a problem with the timing, right? we're supposed to take our time, right? we are supposed to take our time.
i want to show you one last thing here before we get -- what's in the paragraph above the one i highlighted? what's going on here? yeah, katie. >> the law enforcement on how calm they have been to this entire thing. >> how calm they had been had they enforced the laws of segregation. yes. >> the thing that strikes me, it says and continue to protect our city but these were nonviolent, like, protest movements so protecting the city from violence is from the law, they are the only people who were violent. >> they were the only people who were violent, exactly. and i think we may want to go one step further, which king does in the letter. there is a violence in the laws of segregation that does not involve billy clubs and fists and people getting kicked.
there's a violence in the daily humiliations. as long as the cops are called, it's cool, right? no, everything is not cool. at a certain point, something busts out and someone explodes a bomb or someone gets lynched or someone is murdered. these are the sorts of things that happen. so, let's go to the letter itself. it's long so we are not going to deal with the whole thing, obviously. so what strikes you, first off, about this letter? >> king seems to be very polite.
if that was me responding to people attacking what i was doing, i would have been enraged. i wouldn't have been as polite as he was. >> it's hard to be that polite, right? do you think he's really polite? what do you think? i think you feel least like martin luther king speaks for you in certain ways? >> i wouldn't say that, no. >> tell me, do you think he's polite in here? >> i do think he's polite. he's calm and organized. how he states his point. >> he is calm and super organized. does everybody think he's polite? heather? >> i think he's trying to be understanding. >> you think he's going to step toward them to understand them? >> yeah. yes. katie. >> i think there's an undertone of i don't know if sarcasm is the right word. i don't think his intentions are
to be understanding and trying to -- >> where do you see that in the tone, katie? >> well, when we talks about waiting and he goes and gives a long sentence. >> we'll get to that sentence. yeah. he's pretty worked up by the time he gets to that sentence. anybody else feel anything in the tone? you had it first. >> i disagree with katie. like what he's saying about sarcasm. he has a very politically correct voice. >> what do you mean by correct? >> he's not saying these people and accusing, like just going off what you said. he's like he has an underlying tone. >> of? >> very calm. >> very calm. >> and collected. >> and collected. >> he's trying to understand the people and he's trying to be understood. he's approaching it in a way to be accepted.
if someone attacks you, the response is to attack them. it's not going to get you far. >> it's interesting, a person wrote a whole book about a letter and the response to the letter. the guys he wrote to. almost all of them were devastated by the letter. they felt that they had gone a long way towards the civil rights movement and instead the movement turned around and king, in particular and called them out and made them famous racists. all the risks they had taken on nothing after that. for the rest of their lives, they remembered they were the people, i was the guy that martin luther king nailed in letter from birmingham jail.
they didn't think it was nice. yeah? >> especially the part where -- there's a lot of impeachments with it. i feel like he obviously was trying to say they have had patience for so long and tried to be nonviolent. through all their actions they have been very patient. he felt the need to express himself that way. >> i know he was stunned. they were criticizing him. they were criticizing him on religious grounds. he lives on religious grounds. they went after him. i think he's furious. i think it only coiy comes out that one long sentence, but i think he's controlling the anger throughout the rest of it. it feels to me, the more i read
it, feels like a spring that's kind of pushed together and coiled up really, really tight. he's letting the energy out. he knows he can't be enraged. >> at the time he was unpopular so for him to unleash this rage would play into their stereo typing of him. >> he can't do it. i think he felt, i feel, and you are welcome to disagree with me. i had the feeling that he felt a little boxed into a corner that he couldn't be who he really was so he took the kind of feelings that he had about being in jail in solitary confinement and the
movement wasn't doing that well. it looks like from inside the jail cell, it looks like theirs is the inter preation that will win out, not his. >> even his own dad was like -- >> that's right. i think a lot of things he directed toward him were directed toward his father. you can't tell me to wait. i'm trying to make justice for you for other generations and his own people were telling him. >> i'm so glad you remembered that and brought it up because it's true.
he tried to get him to leave montgomery. he made a deal he wasn't going to make any waves in at lan that because it would make too many waves for his old man. his own father didn't want him making waves. daddy king said i don't know where you get that nonviolence stuff. you must have got it from your mother. i think he's talking to his father and to all the people that have said no. he's way out there on a limb. he's so far out on a limb that he could be in the tomb. it is pretty staggering. he's way throughout and it's
weighing heavily on his mind. we see how that outsider line is something that he really responds to, right? he doesn't really allow the argument of outsiderness. people do it over and over again. that's a phrase that became famous in college campuses. they would say our students are just fine. it's all these outsiders that come in and try to stir it up. everybody blames the waves that get made on outside herbs.
what else doll you see in this letter that you want to talk about? >> i have something. what about when king talks about the two posing forces in the community? >> that's great. where is that in the letter here? >> there's almost a slight divide going on in the community. it's more than just them not wanting king to interfere. does anyone remember? >> where is that? >> who is he referring to?
>> here is the paragraph. >> there's a lot of things going on. there's a lot of different issues. what is he referring to? what is he talking about? these rifts that are coming on because they're not all doing the same thing at the same time. they all have different ideas, different opinions. >> he's talking about how some of the upper class black people were okay to help their business as long as their business was getting along and they were upsetting the white people and could still make money and dpo on with their own lives and they didn't see the struggle of the lower class blacks. >> martin luther king is willing
as peak up front and speak to speak to the white clergy people. this comes in the context of being accused of being an extremist. a force of complacency made up in part of negroes who are so drained of self-respect and a sense of somebodiness that they have adjusted to segregation. in some ways they profit by segregation. how do you profit? >> they would make more money if they had more options.
>> there's african-american beau beauty salons, grocery stores, funeral parlors, churches. some of the black churches would have fewer folks. less likely to happen in the south. king once said, i forget whether he says it here that the hour between 11:00 and 12:00 in the morning is the most segregated hour. there's a whole black community that relies on black economic contributions basically for them to live. same thing happened with black baseball, by the way. the negro leagues that supported hundreds of ballplayers and businesses when jackie robinson came into the white majors, african-americans went to see white baseball. within a matter of half a dozen years, the negro leagues were
finished because most african-american fans wanted to see their ballplayers playing in the white majors. there's all kind of ironies attached to that because there were relatively few black players in the white majors for many years. the team sort of had a quota, maybe two. they didn't have one at a time. they had two. if you were really getting with the program you might have three or four, not more than that because then you would be known as a black team. you guys no a bit of jackie robinson story. you know he came up with the brooklyn dodgers. they automatically became african-americans favorite team in america. it didn't matter where they lived, what league they rooted for, they automatically rooted for the brooklyn dodgers. same thing happened here. with integration maybe these folks wouldn't be doing so well.
bitterness and hay treatred bec dangerously close. the largest and best known being elijah muhammad's muslim movement which included malcolm x. >> what about the other side to this? the idea that many of the wealthier black citizens consider the members of the movement to be just making trouble. do you remember that? >> good question. what do you all think about that? >> what did they mean? their own people t same rights they would need but these wealthier people with the same -- you would think the same problems, but they are calling the members of the movem